The residents of Cayo are mixed. There are Chinese, Mestizos, Rasta, Blacks, expats, Europeans, British, Mennonites, and a lot more. That’s a lot of different types of people in an area with a population of about 50,000, and they are all our neighbors.
The people that have been here the longest are of course the Mayans. The Mayans are the leftover Indians after the dispersal of the Mayans. We also have the Guatemalans, Mexicans, Hondurans, and people from a lot of the Central American countries. We have a lot of Chinese and more are wanting to come into Belize.
The Cayo area was almost totally English-speaking at one time when the British were here. The British insisted that every child has to learn to speak English in the school system, which is still the case today. As we had more immigrants come in from Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, etc., the Spanish language has picked up. So now, there are more Spanish-speaking people here.
It’s kind of interesting that some of the English people here still have high tea. One of my friends is now Mennonite but came from England and she still enjoys a good English tea. There are several kinds of Mennonites here. There are the fundamental Mennonites who still have the horse and buggies and there are Mennonites who are progressive business people. They just have different religious beliefs. There is an area here called Spanish Lookout and the people who live there are Mennonite and you cannot live in that area unless you are Mennonite.
For example, my friend Janet Lohr came here from Germany when she was not Mennonite. After intermingling with the Belizean people, she found that the Belizean men wanted to date and be involved with her daughters so she decided to become a Mennonite in part to keep her daughters safe. After Janet’s husband died in his 40s Janet raised her eight children alone off the proceeds of her farm, which is called Cool M Farms. To this day, Janet sells yogurt, sour cream, all kinds of milk products, eggs, etc. She bakes, cooks, and she is at the market every Saturday with all of her wares to sell cookies and cinnamon rolls. She’s amazing.
The Chinese people here in Cayo own most of the supermarkets. When you walk in, you have just a general friendship with them. They don’t speak a lot of English and I don’t speak any Chinese except to say thank you, but they are very interesting. They are curious about you and you are curious about them. It’s wonderful having them here. I like it.
Most of the expats here are mainly from the US and Canada but we do have some British here and some of them own tour businesses.
(Cool M Farms, Cayo, Belize, pictured.)